Fake News: Photographer Did NOT Capture Dolphin Caught In Hurricane Dorian Winds

Hoax Alert

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Photographer Did NOT Capture Dolphin Caught In Hurricane Dorian Winds

Did a photographer from The Weather Channel take a picture of a dolphin being blown out of the water by hurricane Dorian winds? No, that's not true: the image was a photoshop by a satire website. It is not real.

The story originated from an article published by People of Lancaster in 2016 but updated in 2019 titled "Photographer Captures Dolphin Caught In Hurricane Winds" (archived here) which opened:

FORT PIERCE, FL - A photographer with The Weather Channel captured the strength and tragedy of severe weather this evening when he photographed a dolphin that was caught in Hurricane Dorian's winds.

"I have photographed hundreds of tornados and four hurricanes. I've never seen winds so strong that dolphins were blown from the ocean." said Ernie Schwartz of The Weather Channel.

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Photographer Captures Dolphin Caught In Hurricane Winds

FORT PIERCE, FL - A photographer with The Weather Channel captured a dolphin that was caught in Hurricane Matthew's winds.

The website People of Lancaster carries a satire warning on the about page:

People of Lancaster is a mix of news, opinion, and satire about the people, places and interests of Lancaster County, PA.

Much of the content on this site is satire inspired by real people or events that we love to coat with a heavy layer of snark and sarcasm.

How can you tell what is real and what is satire?

Well, if 'obvious' escapes you and you lack the intellectual curiosity to discover the truth for yourself you can view the tags assigned to every story published on the website. Stories that are satire are assigned the 'satire' tag as shown in the image below and displayed at the bottom of every article published.

The article in question was tagged "DOLPHINS, EARL SNEED, HURRICANE DORIAN, SATIRE".

Funnily enough the story was recycled from 2016 when it appeared on the same site on the same URL but claiming to be about hurricane Matthew:

Is This a Dolphin Caught in Hurricane Winds?

On 7 October 2016, the web site The People of Lancaster web site published an article reporting that a Weather Channel photographer had captured an image of a dolphin caught in the strong winds of Hurricane Matthew: A photographer with The Weather Channel captured the strength and tragedy of severe weather this evening when he photographed a dolphin that was caught in Hurricane Matthew's winds.

The story as it was in 2016 can be seen here on the Internet Archive.

The source image for the photoshop appears to be even older, it appears in this 2004 BBC story about hurricane Frances:

BBC NEWS | Americas | New hurricane fear for Caribbean

Hurricane Frances lashed the Florida coastline Residents of several Caribbean islands are bracing themselves for the arrival of a strong hurricane over the next 24 to 36 hours. Hurricane Ivan is moving towards Barbados, St Vincent, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada and Martinique, US officials said.

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  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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